USWNT wins friendly vs. South Africa in Julie Ertz’s final match


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The U.S. women’s national team earned a 3-0 victory over South Africa on Thursday night in Julie Ertz’s final professional match. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • Lynn Williams (32′, 41′) and Trinity Rodman (34′) fueled the win, combining for three goals in the first half.
  • Ertz, in her 123rd career international appearance for the U.S., started the game and nearly had an assist on Williams’ first goal before being subbed off in the 36th minute.
  • M.A. Vignola got her first international cap, coming on as a left back after halftime as a substitute for Crystal Dunn.
  • The USWNT was back in action in Cincinnati for the first time since their round-of-16 World Cup exit this summer. Interim coach Twila Kilgore is leading the team after Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation last month.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Ertz’s farewell

Ertz was visibly emotional in the leadup to her farewell game in Cincinnati, holding back tears during the playing of the anthem, and again at the end of her speech to the team in their huddle. She started in the midfield next to Emily Sonnett and pushed high at will.

Ertz’s teammates were clearly looking to set her up for a chance at goal. They were serving it to her in the box on set pieces, staying aware of her runs and dishing her the ball – as Rodman did early on in the 11th minute instead of trying to turn and shoot for herself. In the 22nd minute, Lindsey Horan tried to serve the ball over the top for Ertz, who was waiting to make a run off of South Africa’s back line.

Ertz would nearly get an assist from being a target on corners, part of the play on Williams’ goal that made it 1-0. She subbed off shortly afterward in the 36th minute, leaving the field to cheers and hugs as she was replaced by Andi Sullivan. — Yang

Highlights of the match


Ertz, 31, recorded 20 goals in her career with Team USA. She was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2017 and 2019 and helped lead the USWNT to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. She also spent eight seasons in the NWSL, playing seven years with the Chicago Red Stars and most recently appearing with Angel City FC in 2023 (Ertz did not return to the NWSL after this summer’s World Cup).

Ertz was sidelined for 18 months following the 2021 Olympics due to injuries and the birth of her son, but came back in time to play in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. She was named to the USWNT roster for April camp, less than a year after giving birth, and played every minute of the Americans’ four matches in New Zealand and Australia over the summer.

Required reading

(Photo: Brad Smith / ISI Photos / Getty Images for USSF)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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